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Subject: Accreditation


From: Jack C. Thompson <tcl>
Date: Friday, May 7, 1999
Jane Henderson, Treasurer Joint Accreditation Group UK, takes
exception to my comment that her group is lying.  I simply
identified a disjunction between what they said on one page and
what they said on another page.

They wish to be inclusive (a stance which I support), but they also
wish to, and indeed must, comply with European standards, as part of
the unification/standardization drive which Europe is undergoing at
this time.

Other members of the European complex, as regards conservation,
require university training, and this is stated in the UK documents.

Stan Lester, the consultant employed by the Joint Accreditation
Group UK, has been reading the recent dialogue with some interest
and he recently emailed me to state: "To clarify a point  -  much of
the interest in accreditation is coming from conservators in private

But in an earlier communication he told me that the survey's
conducted were anonymous, so I am puzzled.

In the United States, as Niccolo stated:

   "I think that the long delay in certification has largely hinged
    on the grandfathered and grandmothered practitioners and the
    unresolved problem of equity between academic and apprenticeship
    education are the main stumbling blocks."

This is true, and it is why, when Keiko Keyes came up to me at the
LA AIC conference some years ago, I signed her petition in
opposition to the certified paper conservator program initiated by
AIC some years ago.

Many (manymanymany) years ago librarian and archivists working in
university libraries had a problem.  Equitable pay, compared with
academic staff.

Librarians and archivists thought that they were also part of the
academic staff, not part of the janitorial staff.

Their solution was to create a graduate degree, and it worked!  A
person can acquire a graduate degree in Library Science, up to
Ph.D., and have pay-parity with their academic colleagues.

Conservation took a similar path.  A graduate of the
Columbia/UT-Austin library conservation program earns a Master of
Library Science degree, with a certificate in conservation.

In other graduate programs, they may earn a Master of Art degree,
with a certificate in conservation.

But awhile back, talking with an oral historian at a state
historical society which had just hired it's first conservator, the
oral historian (a Ph.D. person) remarked that it was nice that the
historical society had a 'handyman.'

This is probably as good a time as any to reveal Thompson's Secret
Program for the Preservation of our Cultural Patrimony.

Associate degrees.  Two year post-high school academic programs.
Get them as young as possible (apprenticeship literature through the
ages agrees that when hand/tool skills are important, training
should begin by no later than the age of 14-16).  So, a few classes
in writing, art history and chemistry, and an apprenticeship with a
local conservator/restorer.

It is at this level where most of the work is done.  If a
'technician' has dreams of adequacy and wishes to advance, let them
go on to complete a full college degree in art history or science.

If they wish to move on to middle management or higher, admit them
to graduate programs in the area of their interest.  With a
certificate in conservation.

The people whom I've met who were very good at the bench began to
develop their tool skills at an early age; the people whom I've met
who were burned out after a few years in this business were
uniformly those who came to conservation late in life (mid-20's or

Just a thought.

Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Laboratory
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, OR  97217
503-735-3942  (voice/fax)

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:86
                   Distributed: Monday, May 10, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-86-015
Received on Friday, 7 May, 1999

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